Susan Alford sails through confirmation as new Social Services director

Department of Social Services Director Susan Alford.

COLUMBIA — The S.C. Senate unanimously confirmed Susan Alford as the new head of the troubled Department of Social Services on Thursday.

After Alford, 60, was nominated by Gov. Nikki Haley to lead the agency in December, senators initially expressed reservations about her qualifications and the thoroughness of the candidate search. But Alford sailed through confirmation hearings and assured senators that she would work hard and keep an open mind on substantial reforms in the wake of a Senate investigation into DSS practices.

Lillian Koller, the last director of DSS, resigned under fire amid allegations of mismanagement, unworkable case loads and reports of the deaths of dozens of children within its system. The investigation is ongoing.

Alford formerly headed the Youth Learning Institute’s Girl’s Center at Clemson University. Prior to that, she served for 13 years as an administrator at the state Department of Juvenile Justice and began her career as a frontline child advocate with the Lexington County Department of Youth Services.

Reach Jeremy Borden at 708-5837.